The pool of former wide receivers from USC and UCLA that are currently playing in the NFL doesn't include many big names, but it does feature a few established players and even some deep sleepers. UCLA is under-represented, though a few young wide receivers could see enhanced roles in their respective teams' passing games. USC, on the other hand, sports a couple of established commodities. Here's a look at three players to be aware of on draft day and into the first few weeks of the season:
Terrence Austin - Washington Redskins - Projected Round: undrafted (deep sleeper alert)
Last year, Austin appeared in five games and recorded three receptions for 47 yards as a rookie. This year, he has the potential to be a bigger fantasy factor in Washington with a pair of new quarterbacks (John Beck and Rex Grossman) and one year under his belt.
This preseason, Austin has the third most catches on the team (five receptions, behind Santana Moss' eight receptions and Jabar Gaffney's six) for a total of 69 yards. Austin will be playing behind the likes of Moss, Chris Cooley and Anthony Armstrong. He will likely compete with Gaffney for the No. 3 spot, but he has age on his side (Austin is entering his second year will Gaffney enters his 10th season). He could become a factor in a revamped Redskins offense if one of the wide receivers ahead of him starts slumping.
Don't draft him right away, but keep an eye on Austin through the first few games of the season. He may be worth a wavier wire pick-up later on in the season.
Mike Williams - Seattle Seawhawks - Projected Round: 10th
Williams led the Seahawks in receiving yards last season, posting 751 yards in 14 games. The downside, however, is that Williams had only two touchdowns, which (sadly for fantasy owners) is the most touchdowns he's had in any season.
Williams' value is in flux right now with the turnover at quarterback (Tavaris Jackson is slated to start after years of Matt Hasselbeck) and the addition of tight end Zach Miller. He will, however, continue to be central part of the offense. If he can maintain his yards from last season (700-800) and catch a few more touchdowns (pushing into the six to nine range), Smith could be a solid No. 3 wide receiver.
Keep an eye on his health over the next few weeks and don't be afraid to grab him if he drops in your draft.
Steve Smith- Philadelphia Eagles- Projected Round: undrafted, sleeper alert
Smith's undrafted status at this point is attributed to his health. He has three years of solid experience under his belt with the New York Giants and has proven to be a capable NFL receiver. In 2009, Smith posted 1,220 yards and 7 touchdowns over an entire season. Last season, he played only nine games and recorded 529 yards with three touchdowns.
His value is down a bit since he joins a new team in Philly with a deep receiving corps (already featuring Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant), but he could work his way into the mix with good health and a few games under his belt. Smith should challenge Avant for the No. 3 WR role, and he could even become a factor for the No. 2 spot if Maclin drops off or continues to have health problems.
Though Smith's health could be a concern, he might be worth a grab-and-stash in deeper leagues.